Bags of Bran

Mostly So I Remember
February 7, 2015, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Biography

Recently over at Religious Affections someone asked why we call it “conservative Christianity” if there is only one Christianity. There is a long answer in book form, but this was my ad-hoc, off-the-cuff answer. I preserve it so that I can go back and modify it for clarity.


I’m not trying to speak for [whats-his-name], but perhaps an illustration would help. I’m Baptist, so I have a specific set of beliefs about the way the New Testament presents baptism. Presbyterians have it all wrong, from my perspective, but they have lots of other stuff right. I think that my Christianity is more biblical than theirs is; they think that their Christianity is more biblical than mine. I am not ready to say that they are not Christians because they disagree with my understanding of baptism. They would, for the most part, extend the same charity to me.

In a similar way, we use the term “conservative” to highlight a value distinction that we’re committed to. We are convinced that the Bible not only gives us right doctrine and practice, but also right values, or loves. In the penumbra of Biblical teaching there is a valuation of objects and concepts: that is why, for example, Jesus didn’t just say “you ought to forgive people because your debt to God is great” to Peter. He told him a parable that helped him to not only THINK the right way, but also to FEEL the right way about forgiveness. Forgiveness has a quality, not just a quantity.

But we don’t think we’re the first people to stumble across this truth: actually, we think we’re part of (one of) the first generation(s) who don’t believe this, and we’re trying to recover it. That’s why we distinguish ourselves as “conservative.”

Hope that helps!

I’m reproducing it here so that if it gets buried at the other site I can find it again. This is the sort of thing that happens when you use your blog more like a notebook than a soapbox.

Feel free to click to another post for some other bran to chew on.


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